Administration Announces Improved COVID-19 Situation, Loosened Regulations

October 13, 2022

Students+engage+in+spirit+activities+during+their+first+mask-free+assembly+of+the+year.+Photo+Courtesy+of+Kevin+Chan+

Kevin Chan

Students engage in spirit activities during their first mask-free assembly of the year. Photo Courtesy of Kevin Chan

As the school year moves forward, the amount of confirmed COVID-19 are decreasing, according to Nurse Joan Barada. Due to the improved situation, Menlo announced updates to the COVID-19 protocol in an email on Oct. 2. 

 The cafeteria reopened indoor seating on Oct. 10 for the first time since the onset of the pandemic in March, 2020. The seats are on a “first-come-first-served basis” but the school “hope[s] to increase availability in the weeks and months to come,” according to the email from Head of School Than Healy.

Furthermore, as of Oct. 7, masks are optional at assemblies and class meetings. Students and faculty enjoyed these same rules at the Homecoming dance on Oct. 7.

These improvements come a month after an uptick in COVID-19 cases marked the start of the school year, with over 25 confirmed COVID-19 cases by Sept. 9, according to an email sent by Barada and Assistant School Nurse Laurel Marks. However, Barada believes that the spike in COVID-19 cases is over. “We seem to have weathered the storm. […] I know the case count is coming down,” Barada said. “I think we’re through the worst.”

Still, Barada emphasized that COVID-19 is difficult to predict because of how rapidly it changes. Despite this, it would take a dramatic increase in cases to alter school protocol regarding testing. Currently, testing is opt-in for those without symptoms. “[If] there’s a massive, massive amount [of cases], like double what we had, […] then we would probably ask everybody to test and check you off as you did it,” Barada said. “I can’t see that happening in the near future.” 

Upper School Director John Schafer acknowledged the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation. “There’s an element of waiting and seeing if there are going to be outbreaks in our community,” Schafer said. “It’s not knowing when it ends, how it ends or does it ever really end, or is this [becoming] part of the new normal.”

However, Schafer also detailed that his concerns around COVID-19 have changed since the beginning of the pandemic. “It’s more uncertainty than actual concern because if you look at how things have gone since the vaccines and the boosters, fewer and fewer people are getting really sick. I personally have much fewer concerns than I had in the pre-vaccine days,” Schafer said.

The school is still taking precautions, though. Students were required to obtain a rapid antigen test through Inspire on Oct. 7 in order to attend the dance, which Barada told the school was a joint decision between Menlo School and San Mateo County. Menlo also continues to enforce a vaccination requirement for all faculty and students 16 and older.

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Andrea Li, Copy Editor
 

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 3

Favorite aspect of journalism: writing stories about topics she likes.

Interests outside of school: drawing, listening to music.

Class of 2024

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